European health card launch

A new Europe-wide health card is set to launch next month. The Cartão Europeu de Seguro de Doença, the new European Security From Illness card (CESD), should be available to all European citizens from June 1. The card will gradually replace the old E111, E111B and Blue Passport – documents required for those who move temporarily to other countries within the European Union in order to benefit from health care in these countries.

EU officials claim that the new Europe-wide card should remove bureaucratic hurdles and cut paperwork. The CESD card will be personal, non-transferable and valid for a year. The card is all part of a wider EU plan to promote co-operation for medical care between the 25 EU members. In the long term, the objective is to allow all EU citizens to use health care facilities in any member state and not only in case of emergencies. The commission also wants the 25 EU countries to provide sick patients with information regarding treatment available in other member states. But some officials in Brussels have reservations about the new card, believing it may encourage health tourism, with people shopping around for treatment in the European nation best able to provide it.

In Portugal

The effects of the new card will not be felt immediately – according to reports, the Portuguese government has allowed citizens until February 28 next year to apply for their card. However, from January 1, 2006, the CESD will be the only document accepted when moving around between the 25 EU countries, as well as in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. According to Manuel Pinto, assistant director of the Department of International Relations at the Ministry of Social Security and Employment, obtaining the card will be simple. “People will be able to request cards in the same places where they currently request the E111 forms.”

Social security contributors should be able to request the CESD card at their regional social security centres and at the health centre where they are enrolled — it should take a maximum of five days to be handed over. EU officials envisage that the CESD card will eventually substitute all the various documents required when an EU citizen goes to another European country temporarily, such as the E110 (international transport), E119 (job search) and E128 (workers in another country and citizens studying in another country).